PHOENIX — An Arizona sheriff whose immigration crackdowns have drawn wide attention is going on the stand to testify about his acknowledged disobedience of court orders in a racial profiling lawsuit and as well as an alleged investigation involving the case’s judge.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio faces the contempt-of-court hearing Wednesday over his decision to let his officers conduct immigration patrols 18 months after they were told to stop them.
The sheriff, whose territory covers metropolitan Phoenix, also is being called into court for his office’s failure to turn over traffic-stop recordings before the profiling trial and bungling a plan to gather the videos once they were publicly revealed.
Other subjects examined at the hearings include allegations that Arpaio launched an investigation of the profiling case’s judge in a failed bid to get him disqualified and that his officers pocketed personal items seized from people during traffic stops and busts.
The six-term sheriff could face civil fines and later he’ll be called into criminal court on similar grounds.
“I want to apologize to the judge that I should have known more of his court orders,” Arpaio testified during an initial round of contempt hearings in April. “It slipped through the cracks.”
He is expected to testify about his investigation involving U.S. District Judge Murray Snow, who delivered a setback to Arpaio in 2013 when he concluded that sheriff’s deputies had profiled Latinos during regular traffic and immigration patrols.
The judge confronted Arpaio about the investigation during the April hearings. Weeks later, the judge said the investigation was intended to show an alleged conspiracy between him and the U.S. Justice Department, which was pressing a separate civil rights lawsuit against Arpaio.
The sheriff, who in the past has been accused of retaliating against his critics, had insisted that he hadn’t investigated Snow.
Instead, he said his office examined allegations that wiretaps had been put on emails and phones of local judges and lawyers defending him in the Justice Department case. Still, Arpaio acknowledged that he has lost confidence in the informant who provided the tip.
Documents that have since been released show that Arpaio’s office was pushing the informant for anything to back up his claims about the conspiracy on the eve of the April contempt hearings.